Milky Way Love of the Galaxies . . . Happy Father’s Day

firewood-pileBoots here.  Your Badass Coffee Babe shooting like a star from the hip today and telling it like it is.  With the advent of Father’s Day, I am reminded of many things . . . memories of life-in-general this past year concerning my own father . . . times that now feel to be long ago and quite far away.  I was thinking back to the summer when my father came to visit me up at my cabin and how, bored out of his gourd with no television for a week, he split enough firewood to last me nearly a month.  I can still see that stack of split wood and that look of satisfaction of a job-well-done on his face, happy he was leaving me, his daughter, with the gift of time away from the woodshed splitting block.

These memories of life, love, firewood, and family have an odd way of percolating to the surface.  During my time of living in that cabin, located on that effortful and toilsome trail, I met my share of fathers who wanted to share their love of the great outdoors with their sons and daughters.   You can tell a lot about human nature by the way a parent introduces adversity and misery to their children regarding clouds of mosquitoes, leaking tents, smoky fires, forgotten necessities, and squirrel-pillaged rations.  One father who stands tall in my memory is a man I  call Caroline-y, a father who came huffing and puffing up the trail with his son Bud on one Especially-Rainy Day.

I was holed up in the cabin and feeling pretty darned certain that no one – and I mean no one – was going to be coming up the trail in all of that rain to ask about fishing, boats, horses, directions, or firewood.  No, it was Flat Out Raining — a classic Pouring-Down-Your-Tin-Pants-Straight-Into-Your-Boots kind of rain.  The kind of rain that says to you that you might as well just forget about the woolly sweater, the slicker, and the rubber poncho and just stay inside.

Anyone who has spent any time working out in the woods knows that, at a certain point, trying to “stay dry” under a steaming, streaming rubber poncho actually feels wetter than just going with the Literal Flow from the Heavens Above and accepting the fact that you are going to be soaked to the skin anyway.  It might as well be God’s good replenishing water, rather than your own poncho-created condensation.  There is some Measure of Liberation in just going with the way Nature is funneling life’s elements your way.  Sometimes life is best if you don’t fight it and you just go with the Flow.

monarch wood stoveSo, there I was.  Rain drumming on the metal roof of the cabin.  My feet propped up on the oven door and sitting just an easy arm’s length from my cup of Joe that was staying nice and hot on the stove-side warming tray.  It was a day for getting caught up on my reading and for thinking about getting started on some chores that were on the list for Needing Doing that day.

I was dreaming my way through a supply catalog when the dogs came barreling out from behind the cookstove.  They went tearing out the woodbox door– setting up a violent ruckus.  I wondered, Who the hell would be out on the trail on a day like today? 

Now the back door of my cabin didn’t set much more than 10 or so yards from the trail – the close proximity of which didn’t bother me much.  I lived on a lake in the middle of a wilderness area surrounded by Absolute Nowhere that was only accessible by float plane or by trail.  The trail to the lake was steep and had a way of winnowing out those who weren’t interested in mastering some serious elevation gain and the general hiking population, at best, was quite sparse.

The back door of the cabin was also my front door, as I never quite finished building the necessary deck and steps that would connect the Hanging Front Door to Terra Firma.  You can bet that I kept the “front door” barricaded and locked from the inside, not wanting Anybody’s Fool to go through it and then ass over teakettle onto the dirt below, mistakenly thinking it was the nearest exit to the Bank.  (The Bank being the Outhouse, thusly named by my illustrious predecessor.)

I suspected that the dogs might be barking at the arrival of the horses.  Now these horses were a wily lot.  They ran loose on the Rarity of Open Pasture – meaning that their only “fences” were purely topographical features – and it was a rip-roaring, two-dog-alarm  when they tried to sneak in to the homestead through the criss-crossing game trails that led to the salt lick from the Bird Meadow.  These horses were smart — smart enough to resort to covert actions, knowing that the odds were good to pretty-damned-great that they would be caught and captured and then put to work packing supplies up the hill from down below.

The sneaky devils generally came stealing in at nighttime for salt – or at least as stealthily as a one-ton animal can manage.   The dogs barked with the same amount of gusto in the wee hours of the night upon their unannounced arrival, but I never felt obligated to go chasing horses at night – beings as their eyes pick up light much better in darker conditions than we humans can.  The odds were certainly with them escaping against me capturing, what with me giving chase and tripping through the understory with a flashlight in one hand and a halter and oat bucket in the other.  It was quite the scene to be certain, me stumbling and cussing and them flicking their tails and horse-laughing their rumps off.

Well, the dogs were barking beyond their usual call of Advance, dear woman!  The evasive equines are noshing up at the salt lick!  (In case you hadn’t surmised, I had some seriously eloquent canines.)  I had no choice but to remove my backside from my place of comfort by the fire and check out the barking brouhaha.

I looked out the window and saw no sign of the Sneaky Devils up at the barn trying to get a nip of salt before bolting back into the forest.  What I did see were two people, one adult and one kid who must have been about 10 years old, standing in the middle of trail looking puzzled by the anomalous sight of the cabin.  They looked more soaked than two otters who just came in off the river for a spot of dry refreshment.  The father was hacking and wheezing like a dedicated smoker and the kid just looked like a miserable human being who was not rightly into this whole idea of male bonding on this particular day of inclement weather.

I grabbed my slicker from the hook on the back of the door and went outside to ask them if they were lost.  They explained that they were camped down below and saw this trail and wanted to see where it led.  I think that their use of the collective pronoun we was a stretch, as the kid just kept his head down – trying to keep the stream of rain that was coming off his yellow-blonde forelock from getting in his eyes.  I knew that feeling of Rain Misery and I felt for the kid.

I heard myself asking them if they wanted to come get warm in the cabin.  The dad started to say Nah so I added, “I have water on to boil.  I can make some cocoa for your wet friend here.”  They came in and crowded around my table-for-one – a slab of wood hinged to the wall of the cabin that I pulled up and set on those rare occasions when I wanted to eat on a flat surface – generally preferring a chair leaned up next to the warmth of the stove.

They took off their wet gear — super-soaked cotton hoodies — and I went outside to give their gear a good shake and a wring before hanging it to dry on the pegs behind the stove.  Having resumed their Station behind the cookstove, the dogs gave me forlorn looks each time one of them got pinged by a drop of water from the soaked hoodies.  Truth: You just have to respect the look that a wronged and faithful dog can give you, so I moved the hoodies down the peg rail to a spot that did not promise future misery for the pups.

I made cocoa-for-two and managed to find a bag of wrinkly-looking marshmallows in the pantry that some long-ago camper had left with me in trade for the use of my ax.  The kid didn’t mind that the marshmallows were old and seasoned.  It was evident that he was simply grateful to be somewhere warm and dry.

The dad did all of the talking – giving up a string of bullshit stories from when he lived in the woods in the good state of North Caroline-y.  That’s how he pronounced it: Caroline-y.  He talked about the wood smoker that his Pap (Yes, he even said Pap) used to cure the venison and how they used to chop wood the same way I did.

It was midway through his yarn spinning that Caroline-y pulled a Milky Way candy bar out of his shirt pocket and started to eat it.  Right there in front of the kid.  The kid spoke aloud — which surprised me — as he hadn’t said a word up until then, and he asked his pap if he could have some.  Caroline-y just gave him an appraising look and kept chawing away on his Milky Way while saying, “Sorry, Bud.  Ate yours, Bud.”

The cabin grew a clumsy feeling – like a low-pressure Cloud of Awkward blowing through.  It could have been the way I froze when I looked at Bud, who was looking mighty embarrassed for taking the chance to ask aloud.  I walked over to Bud and plopped an extra handful of marshmallows into his still-steaming cocoa and said, “You’ve got to help me eat these, Bud.  I’m allergic to marshmallows.”

The story really doesn’t go anywhere beyond this point, other than the rain stopping and me handing their more-dry-than-when-they-arrived hoodies back to them and pointing them back down the trail to their camp.  For some reason that line of Caroline-y’s stayed with me though: Sorry, Bud.  You ate yours, Bud.

In the years since, I have worked my thoughts all the way around that Sorry Bud line.  I understand the concept of Real Life Tough Love and teaching young ones the value of not always being handed every darned thing that they might want or demand.  Truth: the kid had eaten his own Milky Way on the trail.  And just because you opt to consume your portion first, doesn’t mean that you deserve a share of someone else’s Delayed Gratification Efforts.  Justice has a way of prevailing in Life when it comes to this.  And it should.

But still . . .

Life does offer us a whole lot of Extenuating Circumstances as well.  Take a Soaking Rain for example.  Or Going Along with someone else’s Genius Plan to hike up to God-Knows-Where in a Drenching Downpour.  Or not being dressed right for the weather.  Or the thought that floats a little higher than Caroline-y’s brand of Sorry-Bud Justice is the one that says Why not say I love you without saying it out loud?  Just hand over half of the Milky Way and everyone wins.

As you can probably tell, my feelings tip to the side of Extenuating Circumstances and saying I love you without using words.  I think that there are always going to be other ways and times to teach the Real Life stuff to our loved ones.  Why not extend the Magic of the Completely Unexpected . . . the warmth and the dry and the hot cocoa in a stranger’s cabin in the middle of a crazy  downpour . . . just for that extra second longer and cut the damned candy bar in half and hand it over . . . all with a smile that says Ain’t life great?

I don’t know.  Lest you think that I am judging here . . . I’m not.  And I am.  I think of that day and I hope that Bud knows that there are people in the world that will have his back, even if it’s only with past-their-prime desiccated marshmallows.  Life has taught me that there’s a whole heck of a lot of grace to offer.  And to be universally fair, I am hoping that Caroline-y gets his share of grace, too.

51302134So that’s it from me, Boots the Badass Coffee Babe, on the brink of Father’s Day 2016.  This is the first year when I do not have the need to send a greeting card or make a phone call to my father, as he passed away this past December.  I think about the years when my Father’s Day cards were late and when I didn’t call on Sunday.  It makes a part of my heart droop to the sad side, and I hope that my father understands.

That’s the thing about my dad.  Even now in these Days of Loss, he lets me know.  There are days when I can feel him extending me the bigger half of a Milky Way candy bar that isn’t rightly mine to have, and I accept it with a hungry gratitude and a thankfulness in my heart.  If there is anything I have learned this past year it is this: Life turns on a dime.  And it spins on an axis that is provided by our parents who bring us into the world so we can learn about the dizzying gift of extended grace.

ardoch main streetIt feels odd and strangely marvelous to think that I have stood on the same planet all of these years past with my father, streaking through the Milky Way together . . . and I wonder.  Like looking up at a cloudless sky at all of its nightly glory, it’s hard not to wonder.  I stand out under the starlight and I see the faint remnants of our galaxy and I send Milky Way love to my father, a man whom I didn’t always understand yet I loved all the same.  And I know he loved me.

For all of those Milky Way moments of grace and love and forgiveness that you extended to me, I thank you, Dad.  From the bottom my heart and to the ends of the Universe.  Truly.  I wish you a Happy Father’s Day.

This song is the BEST.   Please, take a moment of quiet to listen.

Happy Father’s Day to all of you fathers out there.

Remember . . . life is a lively event that will spin on a dime.

Share your candy bar, drink coffee, and get to it.

What’s stopping you?

xoxox from your Badass Coffee Babe, Boots


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Dad, I raise a mug to you.


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A Cup of Coffee, Freebird Boots, & Lynyrd Skynyrd

Good morning, People!  Yay for Thursday!

Grab a cup of coffee, scroll to the bottom of this post, click on the music link courtesy of the good Lynyrd Skynyrd, and check out these Thursday boots.  The Sadie boots and Mabel boots are especially cute!

Life is a lively event.  Pull on some boots, drink some coffee, and get to it.

What’s stopping you?

good morning coffee cup

These boots need no special occasion . . . they are for everyday fun.  Happy shopping!

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Freebird Women’s Mabel Boot

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Freebird Women’s Phoenix Low Boot

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Freebird Women’s Belle Boot

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Freebird Women’s Chief Boot

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Freebird Women’s Sammi Boot

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Dutch Oven S’mores & the Misery of Hangovers & Hiking Out in Just Your Socks

Boots here to extol the virtues of Dutch ovens, S’mores, Guatemalan coffee beans . . . and to warn against the vice of imbibing too much Hooch and then finding yourself way out of your league when it comes to campfire games!

What you need for this twist on a campfire classic: A good fire?  Check.  Dutch oven?  Check.  Campfire coals?  Perfect.  S’mores ingredients?  Check.  Time to make some Dutch Oven S’mores!

This is a whole different take on making S’mores.  I know that 1) poking the fire with a stick is a whole lot of fun and 2) tempting the flames with a marshmallow at the end of a stick is even more fun.  Will it toast up buckskin tan or will it incinerate into a lump of carbon?

This Dutch oven recipe takes the wondering out of the equation.  And everyone can enjoy their S’mores at the same time once you lift the oven’s lid.  Also, making the S’mores this way eliminates that marshmallow-eating Chubby Bunny contest (a campfire game for amateurs, at best) that has a tendency to heat up between competitive cousins and liquored-up uncles.  [Spoken by the wrangler who has seen too many campfire scenes that cannot be unseen.]

This way, while your treats are baking away in the Dutch oven, you all can turn your attention to telling ghost stories or to playing a rousing game of Shoeking! instead and see who just might end up hiking back down the trail the next day in his stocking feet.  [Note: Now this game of balancing your boot on your toes and flipping it back over your head and not into the fire actually is  more fun with liquored-up uncles.]

I’ll never forget the summer I watched a whole troop of good ol’ boys — all of whom looked to be bearing the Divine Punishment — leaving camp The Morning After with most of them missing at least one shoe.   All I could think was Those damned fools were playing Shoeking!  There was something about seeing their hangdog expressions and the dust cloud that followed their shuffling sock-footed procession that still makes me bust a gut.

This shoe-less band of travelers, clearly having partaken in a goodly portion of Hooch the night before,  was in such rough shape when they doddered past the cabin that they hired me on the spot to saddle up Eagle to carry the heavier items from their camp down the hill.  I sympathized.  Of course I did.  But there was a part of me that was thinking that there was going to be a whole lot of footsore at the end of the trail along with all of the blame and cussing that I was sure to bear witness to.  One buckaroo kept saying over and over, “My Gawd, my Gawd.”  Whether he was intervening for his sole-less foot or for his soul-less quaff from the night before, I couldn’t tell.   The other guys kept telling him to Zip It, Chet! — knowing that maintaining low morale wasn’t going to help a single one of them get down the trail any sooner.

Chet couldn’t refrain from his mantra of misery, so the rest of the boys started to call Chet “Mr. Tenderfoot” and other such insulting monikers with additional colorful embroideries.  I tried not to crack up and just kept Eagle steered down the trail ahead of the shoe-less pack, thinking that there are some stories in life that you just can’t make up.  This was one of those stories.

I just don’t know.  Life is funny and it is strange.  And thank God for stories that entertain the Disbelieving Parts that dwell within.  I can’t really say that participating in this experience enriched my life in any way, but I did file it away in my mental folder labeled “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up.”  You know the stories.  The Fact-is-stranger-than-Fiction stuff.  The stories that cling to our memories’ heels through time for no apparent reason.  I would like to think that the things I carry with me have some edifying value from time past, but this particular tale?  It simply makes me laugh my ass off when I think back to that day.

Truth: laughter is its own medicine and these boys had given me a goodly dose as a result of their misguided and high-spirited Shoeking! folly.

But sorry stories aside, let’s get back to stuff that really matters like coffee, chocolate, and campfires . . . My coffee pairing recommendation for the sweet side of S’mores?  I am thinking a Guatemalan coffee for this particular sweet.  There is nothing like Guatemalan coffee paired with chocolate . . . although Arabian mocha beans are pretty great, too.  Check out this single origin Guatemalan coffee after you have stocked up on the S’more goodies.  You deserve good coffee with your campfire treat.  And what a cute bag that comes with it!


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Or how about this certified organic, whole bean, single-country-origin bean from Guatemala?


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Okay!  Now that you have your coffee, here is the recipe for the S’mores.  This recipe is taken from the Taste of Home Web site: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/pot-of-s-mores
POT OF S’MORES
TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 25 min.
MAKES: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 package (14-1/2 ounces) whole graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows

Directions

  1. Prepare grill or campfire for low heat, using 16-18 charcoal briquettes or large wood chips.
  2. Line a Dutch oven with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Combine cracker crumbs and butter; press onto the bottom of the pan. Pour milk over crust and sprinkle with chocolate and butterscotch chips. Top with marshmallows.
  3. Cover Dutch oven. When briquettes or wood chips are covered with white ash, place Dutch oven directly on top of six of them. Using long-handled tongs, place remaining briquettes on pan cover.
  4. Cook for 15 minutes or until chips are melted. To check for doneness, use the tongs to carefully lift the cover. Yield: 12 servings.

It really is worth buying a Dutch oven.  You can make so many different recipes that benefit from its even heat.  You can use it hanging above the fire, in the coals, and in your oven at home.  I love this homely old cast iron pot that eloquently says, “Good Cooking!”  You won’t be sorry that you made the investment in something that is so versatile.

Boots, signing off and keeping my bootlaces tight!  xox

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Happy trails, good people!

The Best of the Best in Camp (and Commuter) Coffee Cups

Boots here.  Looking at the best in camp coffee cups and picking out inventory for the Cabin Door Store.  I guess I have become one of those gear junkies that likes to have the best when I head out on the trail.  Long gone are the days when I used to wear wool knickers for alpine skiing on my humble, waxed, wooden cross country skis.   I used to be a purist.  Wool gloves, wool hat, wool socks, wool sweater.  I carried wooden matches, a nice piece of pitch, and a Buck knife that was razor sharp.  My cook box had Granite-ware plates, bowls, and cups.  Allllll natural.  Now?  As much as I enjoy seeing those Janoy skis hanging up in the wood shed, I now have good gear that keeps me dry, warm, and safe and gets me places in the back country.

And as for outdoor cook gear? I have gone on too many camp trips where my coffee went cold pretty much the moment that it was poured in the cup.  If there is any sort of morning chill in the air, you are not going to be drinking even remotely hot coffee.  Take a look at these top-of-the-line cups and mugs listed below from the Cabin Door Coffee Store and think about the hot coffee that these cups promise.  They are best-sellers and of good quality.  You only need one of these to keep you going for years.  No chipping, no denting, and no cold coffee!

And as for my blue granite camp cup that kept me company around all of those fires?  I still bring it along, but I now use it for my morning Bircher muesli.  Some old favorites I’m just not ready to quite give up yet.   And speaking of Bircher muesli, I am thinking that I will share my favorite recipe with you tomorrow.  It is perfect for the trail, for camping, for glamping, and for home.  You can make it the night before and have it ready to go in the morning if you are running late.

And then there’s my Dutch oven.  It is the best.  I am not going to trade it in for anything new and fandangled.  At least not while I have a cook box that will accommodate the size and the weight.  Dutch oven biscuits, baked with the finesse and attention that a Dutch oven asks, are the absolute best.  I mean it!  They are like magic in a pot.  I am thinking that we will have to check a few Dutch oven recipes out later this week as well.

I digress!  Get me started on camp gear and one thing leads to another!  Have fun checking out these most-excellent options for keeping your coffee hot.  Oh, and don’t think that you have to be sitting around a smokey campfire to enjoy these  fantastic options.  I can think of a time or two in recent history when I was running for a city bus in Seattle and my fancy die-hard camp cup was the perfect commuter cup as well.  Nothing says coffee like a great cup!  And in these colors?  Lime, plum, teal, burgundy, red, orange, stainless . . . these colors put the fun in functional out on the trail and on the city bus.

Click on the links or the images below and peruse these cups that are some of the best in camp gear.  It really is the littlest things that make for the best experiences.  Enjoy this fun stuff!

Signing off.  xox Boots xox


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Ode to the Beat-Up Thermos, Marriage, & the Cycle of Life

Hey y’all.  Boots here.  And as we are going into hiking, camping, and glamping season, I am thinking about ways to keep your coffee hot and your coffee cold.  In other words, we are going to be talking about thermal mugs, insulated containers, and the good ol’ homely, tried-and-true coffee thermos in the next few posts.

I can’t even think of the word thermos without thinking about this one couple who used to go out with us on the annual pack trip into the high country each August.  Bill and Doreen Banks were regulars, and they were always toting the same damned banged-up green thermos each year.

Pack_Horses_on_Hemis_TrailNow this thermos had to be one of the most trail-worn thermoses I have even seen.  It was one of those tall green Stanley models that looked like it had been handed down through the ages since the dawn of Manifest Destiny.  You couldn’t help but think of all the lunch hours and picnics that this thermos must have poured its way through to get that mean looking.  It was scarred up, dented, and ugly, and it truly was a testimony to the quality of the Stanley company’s product line.  It was still keeping the Banks’ family coffee hot through all of the abuse it had been subjected to.

This couple, Bill and Doreen, would prepare their coffee together each morning before we saddled up and headed out for the day.  They liked to have a little coffee break with their lunch, and experience had taught them that we didn’t build a fire for just a quick lunch along the trail.  Hence, the necessity for the beloved Stanley.

campfire and coffee brewingOne of them would pull the coffee boiler from the fire while the other readied the Sacred Stanley to receive its daily sacrament of Joe.  Usually Bill poured and Doreen steadied.  Doreen would cluck about the importance of being careful while Bill filled the Stanley to the very brim.

The funny thing was that these two were so proud of their Stanley.  Like it was a badge of honor that they were still toting the same crappy-looking thermos that Bill’s dad had  used when he was alive and working for Boeing.

Maybe it was a lesson in equating age-worn with beautiful. Maybe the Stanley was a testimony to their marriage and a symbol of the trust that they shared.  Or maybe it was a lesson in forgiveness the way that Doreen didn’t cuss Bill out when he splashed her hands with hot coffee as she steadied the Stanley.  Or maybe they were just super cheap people and weren’t about to replace function with shiny new.

I don’t know.  It was way out of my ken.  Other campers would comment on the Stanley’s condition, and Bill would launch into the story about how his dad, Bill the Second, carried it with him to work each day for 20 odd years — all while Doreen would talk over Bill’s tale, adding minor and odd details as to how old Bill’s dad was when he was forced to retire or how many years ago it had been when the two of them had laid claim to the Stanley after Bill Senior’s funeral.

The year came when Bill and Doreen arrived in camp, still with their beloved Stanley.  The first morning in camp, I couldn’t help but notice that the thermos was missing its  lid.  A small part of me wanted to laugh — thinking that there must have been some lulu of a story to explain the carelessness or forgetfulness that led to the decapitated Stanley.  I assumed that we would hear, in full Technicolor, the chain of events that would explain why their Stanley was missing its salutatory cap.

I imagined that Bill had left the cup on the hood of the car after a roadside coffee break, or Doreen had forgotten it on some boulder alongside a creek while picnicking.  It wasn’t until the next morning, when I overheard Doreen fussing over Bill and insisting that he let her pour the coffee, that I knew something wasn’t quite right.  Bill’s hands shook as he tried to steady the thermos for Doreen’s inexpert pouring.

I came to find out later that night over campfire coffee nudges that the Missing Stanley Cup incident was a result of Bill having been hospitalized for several weeks in the months prior.  Doreen dutifully brought him his daily coffee in the trusty Stanley during his stay, and it was believed that one of the nurses on shift had thrown the cup/lid out, mistaking it for garbage.  The outcome of Bill’s hospitalization was still uncertain and they weren’t sure what would allow for Bill in the coming year, but they were grateful that they were able to make one more trip together into the high country before things had the opportunity to go south.

Well, you could have knocked me over with a flicker feather the next year when Doreen showed up.  Alone.  What surprised me wasn’t that Doreen was toting that damned Stanley . . . it was that it had taken on another function as Urn.  Doreen was carrying Bill’s ashes in it and was wanting to bury Bill up in the meadow at Emerald Camp.

We made camp late that afternoon at Emerald Camp and, after dinner,  Doreen asked me if I would grab a camp shovel and  walk with her.  She stopped at a spot that Bill used to called Turtle Pie Rock.  I never knew why he called it that, but Doreen was clear that that was the spot for Bill.   What surprised me was that Doreen wasn’t planning to scatter Bill’s ashes; the Stanley was going to be buried in the hole right along with Bill.

camping-shovel-1I dug for a spell until Doreen told me to stop.  She laid Bill and the Stanley to rest, and I can’t tell you how enormous that moment felt.  I have been to funerals before, and have shed my share of tears.  But this.   Seeing someone being laid to rest in one of his favorite spots on the planet in a damned thermos gave me pause.  I could see how our physical selves all truly return to the ash from whence we came.  The Cycle of Life is enormously dizzying and, if we are lucky, we have someone special in our life who we can hold on to to ease the spin.

We paused before I was instructed to fill the hole.  We looked at each other briefly, and I had tears in my eyes.  Doreen looked away and started to laugh.  A sad laugh filled with stories, tears, fears, and thanks.  Maybe a few regrets.  Regrets that Bill wasn’t there to appreciate the irony about being buried in their Stanley thermos in the middle of the wilderness.  A laugh that spoke of years that had been marked by the zeniths that spiked their days with their unexpected nature of the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And the breathtakingly simple and beautiful.

When we returned to the campfire, I laid a blanket around Doreen’s shoulders.  I poured her a Coffee Nudge and sat with her for a while.  No one else knew that she had just laid her best friend and husband to rest.  It surely does occur to me that hidden sorrow has to be one of the most difficult things that we carry with us in life.

And it just goes to show.  Maybe thermoses, like some marriages, are age-worn on the outside while they still keep the brew nice and hot on the inside.   I really had to hand it to those two.  And to Doreen in her commitment to lay Bill to rest in such a beautiful way.  In spite of Doreen’s shaky year of loss and grief, she was still out doing what she and Bill loved to do, and she arrived toting that same damned Stanley one last time to prove that some things just don’t change.  Won’t change.

Call this some kind of tribute to Bill and Doreen . . . or to Stanley products . . . or to marriage . . . or to fulfilling final wishes . . .  or to high standards to quality . . .  or to . . . I’m not really sure.  Sometimes things just are.

Regardless, I think that this thermos has to be the best one on the market!  Just call this Cabin Door Store post “Ode to Stanley and Bill.”


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Happy fulfilling trails to you from the bottom of my heart,

xox Boots the Badass Coffee Babe

pinto pack horse

 

6 RECIPES for Toddy and Hot Brew

drink coffee its thursdayBe a cool cat and check out this short video that shows you 6 unique ways to drink coffee and some cool items that are perfect for creating that new and interesting iced Toddy beverage.

I think sometimes we forget to try different.  We get into our ruts and feel too busy to try new options.

Life is short.  Try something new.  Your experiment into the unknown might become your new favorite.  Watch the video and see if these aren’t some fun ways for you to shake up your morning coffee routine!  There’s nothing like adding a little bit of difference into the morning brew.

Click on some of the fun ideas below that will kickstart your iced-coffee enjoyment for the summer.  What about try making some mocha, caramel, coconut milk, coffee popsicles for your sunshine-y coffee break out on the deck?

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And how about making some caffe mocha popsicles on a hot summer afternoon?


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Finding Your “Just Right”: Time to Drink Some Toddy

rooster and cowboy bootsBoots here.  I’m back to finish up this series on Toddy Coffee.  This post is all about drinking . . . drinking Toddy as both a hot and a cold beverage.  After a sip of Toddy, you are going to want to stand up and salute the day with vim and vigor!

You now have your concentrate all good to go.  [Note: Be sure to keep your Toddy concentrate refrigerated.]  It is recommended that you  start with a ratio of 1 part coffee concentrate to 2-3 parts water, milk or whatever non-cow liquid you prefer.  I know that soy is a common moo-juice alternative, but heck, why not step into a new paradigm and try cashew, coconut, almond, rice, or hemp milk?  Whatever your moo-free preference, experiment and find the one you enjoy best.  Doesn’t a caramel sauce & cashew-milk iced mocha sound?

[To read an interesting article on these alternative “milks,” (with info on calories, protein, carbs, sugars, fats, and saturated fats) check out http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/the-best-cows-milk-alternatives.html]

Mix your Toddy beverage to taste, making your coffee as strong or as weak as you prefer. This is going to be a Goldilocks thing.  Try it.  Taste it.  Adjust it.  Find your Just Right.

ICED COFFEE: For iced coffee, Toddy is truly the best.  Simply pour the Toddy concentrate and water, milk, or moo-free alternative over ice. No need to double-proportion your coffee grounds for a hot-brew method to get a good iced coffee.

HOT COFFEE: Combine your Toddy concentrate with steaming hot water for a bolder, gentler cup of hot coffee — kind of like an Americano — but not really.  Once you tasted the carmel-ly smooth flavor of Toddy, you will know what I mean.

You really want to experiment with all of the fun ideas.  Here are a few more:

  1. Add Toddy to your morning smoothie.  Toddy would be great with a chocolate-banana smoothie.  Yummy!
  2. Be creative with whatever it is that sounds good to you.  Coconut milk?  Protein powder?  An almond butter-mocha-coffee frappe?
  3. Freeze your Toddy in ice-cube trays, and add cubes to your iced beverages and smoothies for that extra-cold punch.  This will keep your drink colder longer and not diluted by water-ice cubes.
  4. alarm clockToddy is versatile and so convenient.  There is never a need to feel strapped for time in the morning as you are dashing out the door.  If you are a fan of the Snooze Alarm, you can even get your drink ready the night before in a pint jar, put it in the fridge, do your crazed morning dash to work, and heat up your coffee right in the pint jar in the office microwave.  Voila! Fabulous coffee with no morning hassle.
  5. And don’t hesitate to add a little Nudge (aka Hooch to my bootleggin’ granny) to make a hot-coffee cocktail — as long as you are not going to be shoeing a horse or operating any heavy equipment.  Irish whiskey is a traditional Nudge additive, but you can try adding vanilla vodka for something a little different.   I am thinking campfire and some yarn spinning right about now!

And speaking of campfires, doesn’t this look like a fun addition to your summer evenings out on the patio or deck? Grab the S’more fixings, pour yourself a coffee nudge using your Toddy concentrate and indulge in the fact that you are in the great outdoors and only just a pebble’s throw from your own door.

What a hoot this stand-alone fire pit would be on your patio!  It would really open up your summer to the great outdoors.  Just click on the image or link below.

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I hope that this little foray into the world of Toddy has been fun for you!  I remember back to when I first tasted it with that fussbudget sister of mine and, at the time, I had to admit to her that it tasted really good.  I generally forego Toddy during the winter months, as I like a fresh, hot brew.  But the summer?  It is so perfect!

And hail all of you hikers, campers, and glampers!  Think about how great Toddy would be out on the trail.  Put it in a  coffee-tight container and you would be good to go for your entire trek.

And you can click here for a comprehensive PDF from the Toddy experts.  There are all sorts of cool recipes in here for lattes, mochas, iced coffee beverages, smoothies, and even ice cream!

And check out this Kindle option for learning more about Toddy:

[Subscribers read for free!]

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Happy Toddy Trails!

xox Boots

Now . . . Time to Brew Some Badass Toddy!

old boots. s135179597364799095_p1_i1_w693Boots the Badass Coffee Babe here!  And I’m back to talk more about Toddy!  In the last post, I talked about equipment and the chemistry behind why Toddy tastes so darned good.

This post is going to be all about how to make good Toddy.  Getting set up, directions, dos and don’ts, how to store your finished Toddy . . . all of this fun stuff to learn!

First of all, here is a demonstration video — brought to you from the Toddy gurus — that walks you through all of the steps necessary to start brewing.

And here are a few tips from me that urge you to be mindful as you go about brewing your Toddy.  Some of these are a repeat of what the expert in the video advises, but I am not afraid to go overboard when it comes to helping someone else avoid a kitchen disaster. None of the points below can be overstated!

  1. Do not jam the plug into the bottom of the white plastic brewing container/funnel.  Setting the plug using conservative, non-Amazonian strength is sufficient.  You are not going to spring a leak.  Promise.  And attempting to get an over-zealously-jammed plug out of the bottom of the funnel that is full of cold-brew slurry is tempting fate and just plain scary.  One little extra tug of ambition will send your cold brew pouring all over the kitchen.
  2. toddy maker illustrationWhile your Toddy is brewing, put it somewhere SAFE.  The definition of SAFE in Toddy lingo is a place where . . .
    1. . . . your cat won’t tip it over.
    2. . . . your roommates won’t tip it over.
    3. . . . sloppy cords from other appliances won’t slither forth and coil around the Toddy maker such that when you pull your blender out to make a smoothie, you won’t topple the whole Toddy system when you do so.
    4. . . . your other critters won’t have a heyday with it (bird, ferret, sugar glider, etc.  Beware of the darting sugar glider!)
    5. . . . you won’t tip it over.
    6. . . . and again: . . . your cat won’t tip it over!
    7. Use a coarse grind to make your Toddy.
    8. Use good, filtered water.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  If your water tastes like hard well water and you use it to make your Toddy, well . . . you can guess what your Toddy is going to taste like: coffee-flavored hard well water.

There is a theme here: Use good water and don’t tip the dang Toddy over!

Okay!  You now have 12-24 hours to wait until you can pull the plug and drain your Toddy into the glass decanter.

Boots here until next time then when we pull the plug and taste some Toddy!

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Click on the image or the link to view the Toddy brewing system!

And while you are dream-shopping, here is a really good water filtering pitcher.  This pitcher delivers great-tasting water!

Click on the images or the links below.

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Or how about this kicky purple pitcher?

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Time for Toddy, Woodsy Peeps!

Happy Monday!  Boots the Badass Coffee Babe here . . . to talk Toddy!

Mondays. coffeeHow many of you out there have tried Toddy Coffee?  If you have, you recall both the smooth and carmel-ly sweetness of this brew and the ease in its preparation.  If you haven’t tried Toddy, you are going to have to trust me, Boots the Badass Coffee Babe and expert on all things coffee: this is some seriously good coffee!

I remember going on a really crazy trip with one of my sisters.  We were traveling up the Oregon coast and she insisted that we stop and check out one of those cute Victorian-esque seaside towns that you love to hate.  You know the kind.  The sidewalks are narrow and overgrown with thorny rose bushes and stickery shrubberies.  Your fellow tourists are into cutthroat sidewalk chicken and think nothing of edging you out of the herd and into oncoming traffic.  Husbands are lagging.  Children are crying.  Dogs are peeing on the pansies.  Not exactly my idea of fun.

Toddy. image. milk pouring.After what felt like days of being on a forced march, I begged her for a break.  She agreed to seek refuge from the madding crowd and we went into an ice cream shop that smelled of vanilla waffle cones, cherry jubilee, and coffee, sweet coffee.  It was in this emporium we found the Font of Immaculate Conceptualized Toddy.  I confess: after trying Toddy, I was hooked.  It truly is delicious . . . and I learned that it is as easy as 1-2-3 to brew.

Toddy is brewed using a passive, cold-water brewing method that is ideal for the person who is super busy and who likes to repeatedly hit snooze in the morning; who doesn’t want to go to work uncaffeinated and who wants delicious coffee any time of day!

In this series, we are going to talk about

  1. Why Toddy Tastes So Good
  2. How to Brew Toddy and finally
  3. How to Drink Toddy.

Well, today is all about Why Toddy Tastes So Good.  First let me show you what a Toddy cold-brew pot looks like, and then we’ll go from there.  This will all make sense by the end of segment #2 on How to Brew Toddy.  By the time we get to How to Drink Toddy,  you are going to be so happy you’ll be dancing on the barista’s coffee bar and hooting out corny lyrics from an obscure cowboy song.    

Here is the Toddy Brewing Contraption before we go any further. You can click on the image to learn more about this Toddy maker:

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And here is why Toddy cold-brewed coffee tastes so good:

  • It’s designed to brew coffee with 67-percent less acid than coffee made with hot brew methods.
  • Patented cold brew system uses regular coffee beans to create super smooth hot coffee, but with no electricity required.
  • The Toddy Cold Brew System also makes tea, served hot or cold.
  • Set includes brewing container with handle, glass decanter with lid, 2 reusable filters, 1 rubber stopper, set of instructions, and recipe guide.
  • You get more out of your coffee beans, since the coffee concentrate stays fresh for up to 3 weeks.

Tummy sensitive to acid?  Out on the trail with limited access to flame or fuel?  Like your coffee hot and cold?  Penny pinching and wanting to extract the max from those coffee beans?  Brew some Toddy!  The process brews a less-acidic coffee.  It requires no electricity to brew.  You get more out of your beans.

Coffee beans are full of various oils and acids.  This is what gives coffee its delicious flavor.  Cold-brewed Toddy produces less acid and is much more concentrated that hot-brewed, which makes it a great way to make iced coffee.  Toddy will stay fresh in your refrigerator for 2 – 4 weeks — a blessing to all of you busy morning people!

During the winter months, I feel inclined to stick with a hot-brew method . . . but in the summer?  I am all about Toddy!  It is always good to go and, not only is it great for home coffee drinking, it is PERFECT for being out on the trail, on your boat, on a rock face, in a raft,  on blue water . . . you get the idea.  It is one of those brew methods that fits the bill for anywhere!

Fun, right?  Try this cold-brew system out this summer.  You’ll love the flavor profile and the convenience!  And while we are at it, check out these coffee grinders that will help you to get your beans ground perfectly for your Toddy Adventure!

Click on the images below to daydream about a new grinder!

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Stay tuned for BREWING TIPS: How to Brew Toddy in the next post.  Isn’t it fun to learn something new and delicious?  Isn’t it just a hot-damned hootenanny to be able to say, “I know a new way to brew the best-durned coffee!”?